The budget offered up this week by the state legislators and the governor only reinforces our view that being in Sacramento alienates elected officials from the constituents they were elected to represent, the people of California.
We say this because the taking of county revenue to balance the state budget is only going to increase the pressure on California’s counties to cut the very services they have been mandated by either the state or federal government to provide, and that taxpayers believe they have been paying for.
While the governor and state legislators may be smiling and patting each other on the back for finally reaching a deal, (okay, maybe not smiling) residents across the state are cringing in response to what they know will be a cut to local services that will undoubtedly include public safety — police and fire protection — and even fewer emergency medical services.
The pain state officials are inflicting by hijacking local funds will make it seem to the average person that it is the counties and cities cutting services. While technically it may be true, the cuts won’t really be of their doing.
County residents are facing the release into their neighborhoods of a wide array of petty thieves, strung out substance abusers, and drunk drivers. They’ll be on house arrest, claim legislators. Really? Who is going to be policing that deal?
Don’t get us wrong; we fully understand that a state budget had to be passed. What we don’t understand is why the governor and legislature did not do more to eliminate unnecessary boards and commissions whose work is a duplication of another agency or board, or that do not directly oversee health and human services departments. Many of the boards are little more than paid dumping grounds for termed out politicians and their cronies.
At least politically, it would have made Californians feel better.
Even with this budget, if it passes, California’s crisis is far from over. What state officials have done is again use gimmicks to deal with the problems for now, rather than provide a real budget fix.
Two of California’s largest public pension plans – CALPERS and the California State Teachers Retirement system — have both experienced huge losses that will probably cost the state untold billions to make whole. State taxpayers are on the hook and obligated to pay this next bomb that will soon hit, and for which there is no existing revenue source.
Crisis averted? Hardly.